How long will old UK banknotes stay in circulation after QE2's death?

Reading this thread about HM’s tipping habits (or lack thereof), I started thinking: When the Queen dies, new banknotes will be issued with King Chuck’s smiling phiz on them. But how long do the old Elizabeth notes stay in circulation? Do they start retiring them immediately, with banks instructed to return Elizabeth notes for Charles notes? Or do they retire them according to normal procedures as they wear out, which could result in high-denomination, infrequently-circulated Elizabeth notes staying in circulation for quite a few years after Charles’s coronation?

If it’s anything like the coins, they will stay in circulation until they wear out or the design is changed more significantly than just the artwork. Coins bearing the heads of earlier monarchs remained in circulation up until the early 1990s, when the 5p and 10p pieces, which were the same size, shape and original value as the old shilling and two-shilling coins, were replaced with smaller coins. Until their withdrawal, it was not unusual to encounter George VI coins in circulation.

Notes wear out much faster, of course, so the Elizabeth II ones would disappear quickly.

I recall in the pre-decimalisation days that you’d sometime get a Victorian penny in your change, so that would make those coins 70 years old or more.

I can’t see why we would change from that sort of precedent.

There isn’t really a precedent since Elizabeth II is the first monarch to be on Bank of England notes. No matter what happens, it shouldn’t take long for Charles banknotes to be the norm since they don’t last very long.

Actually, there may be a precedent of sorts. The designs of Bank of England notes have changed several times over recent years, particularly in the matter of which notable person is depicted on the reverse. Older designs have had official dates after which they were no longer legal tender. But, as has been pointed out before on this board, “legal tender” has nothing to do with using notes or coins to buy things (it relates purely to the settlement of debts), so these familiar notes may have continued to circulate after their legal tender expiry date.

In practice, I imagine that retail banks would take to returning soon-to-be-obsolete notes to the central bank rather than reusing them. So perhaps the B. of E. would set a “use by” date on Liz II notes that would effectively withdraw all of them from circulation, including the rare denominations. Older notes would still be recognised by banks, so people with a stash of £100 notes under the mattress would not lose out.

The US’s take on this is to avoid using living figures on money to begin with. All of our current coins and banknotes have historical figures from US history, including Washington, Lincoln, and FDR. We also have a principle that no money ever legally ‘expires’. Never redeemed 50 cent banknotes issued during the acute coin shortage during the (US) Civil War are still, in theory, valid and acceptable. In a practical sense, spending large quantities of old bills may raise some eyebrows in law enforcement and subject you to unwanted questioning or surveillance.

It never expires in the UK either.

Are old Bank of England notes worthless?
No; all Bank of England notes retain their face value for all time. If your local bank, building society or Post Office is not willing to accept these notes then they can be exchanged with the Bank of England in London.

I suppose I’d better correct myself and say that British coins are a different matter, and they can expire some time after being withdrawn from circulation.

I’ve found Canadian coins with George VI on them in my change as recently as last month. And I don’t even live in Canada.

I think Canadian pennies and nickels might be the only base-metal coins from the reign of George VI (and George V) that are still circulating in more or less unchanged forms (soon to just be nickels). Some Australian coins are still the same size as their pre-decimal equivalents, but they were silver up until the change, so the market has taken them out of circulation even if the government didn’t.

But, hang on. You just said that the US puts historical figures on its notes; now you’re telling us that it once used hip-hop stars from the future? This beggars belief.

But does raise the question - if 50 Cent ends up on a $10 banknote many years from now, what would they call it?

On a more serious note the BoE has a little bit about withdrawn notes here, although they all date from the modern Elizabethan era. “All Bank of England notes from which legal tender status has been withdrawn remain payable at face value forever at the Bank of England in London. Any such notes may be presented for payment either in person during business hours, or sent to us by post”, they say, although for other institutions it’s a matter of individual policy. Looking in my wallet I currently have an Elizabeth Fry £5 and a Charles Darwin tenner, so I can’t test this out.

The most recent dead white establishment figure to bite the dust was Edward Elgar, on the “this cash machine is out of £10 notes” £20 note, as reported on by the BBC here. “The £20 English banknote featuring the image of composer Edward Elgar will be accepted in shops for the last time on Wednesday. Banks, building societies and post offices will only exchange the note for a newer replacement at each institution’s discretion after then. From 1 July, customers may find they can only swap it by sending it back to the Bank of England.” In practice I doubt that a shop would refuse the note (a Post Office, maybe) although whether self-service checkout machines would spit it out, I don’t know.

Of course, this is all about the back of the note, not the front, but I surmise that the procedure would be similar. The £50 would be the last to go, but it’s not very popular so it doesn’t matter so much. In my opinion the Gibraltar £5 should be withdrawn immediately, it’s hideous. If I was the Queen I would have the man responsible for that likeness thrown from Gibraltar into the sea. Or blasted off the rock in a burning Land Rover, like in The Living Daylights.

It was replaced in 2011. Now the youthful Queen just peers out eerily from the fog.

Properly, a fiddy cent piece.

I was watching the concert for the Diamond Jubilee yesterday with a friend (PVRd from the summer) and coincidentally mentioned, “she better not die any time soon now that we’ve issued long-lasting polymer bank notes!” (in Canada.) It would be a shame to have to replace all the $20 bills again.

From time to time I get Canadian coins in change. Over the years I’ve gotten Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II.

Indeed, they’re probably worth much more as collectibles than their face value as U.S. currency.

Canada never made any Edward VIII coins. He got out too soon.

Here in Australia I am certain we have King Charles* designs all ready to go, and probably have done since before we invented polymer banknotes back in the 80s.

*Or George VII or whatever name he chooses.

Canada has never demonitized its currency; I see no reason why it should upon the death of Queen Elizabeth.

Based on Canada’s non-demonitization of anything, I’m sure that QEII banknotes will remain legal tender throughout Canada when Elizabeth passes away. They will be replaced by banknotes featuring Charles, but to the best of my knowledge, and due to Canada’s reluctance to demonitize, Elizabeth notes will always be honoured.

I dont mind a figure head Monarch, but I also wouldn’t mind a more Canadian bank note.